Thursday, 20 August 2020

The Boss and Q meet again

The Boss and Q meet again - Hi Boss. - Hi Q…. How goes? - So, so. - Hmmm. - Yeah, it’s suffering again… (The Boss sighs) … You know when I was a young man I naively believed that if you gave people the right information they would act in their and others best interests. It didn’t work. Then in my twenties I came across therapy and thought ‘Aha’ if people can be healed of some of the damage done to them then they will be able to change the world for the better. But no…… And now as I get older and people around me get iller I just see suffering. - Hmm. - Suffering! And… some of it can be helped but a lot of it can’t and just has to be lived with. - Sure. - And I find it hard to be with suffering especially with those close to me… I like to make a difference. - But being with people in their suffering makes a difference! - Oh…. (The Boss tears up.) - And that it sometimes really hard… just staying with someone suffering and not able to make things better. The Boss nods, not trusting himself to speak without crying. They go into a comfortable silence together. And as this silence deepens the Boss begins to feel better as he experiences the value of being present to suffering and the tears flow silently down his face.

Tuesday, 11 August 2020


On my early morning bike ride today I reflected on how shouting at people is not a good way to try and change their behaviours and attitudes. OK sometimes we need to shout or get angry and it is a communication. However, the best way of changing people’s minds is by listening to them and being heard by them. I think the unfinished peace process in Northern Ireland is a fine example of some progress being made even by people who powerfully disagree with each other but who are willing to put down the guns and talk and talk. And notice how much support other people, politicians from outside Ireland gave to this. I had a very opinionated father who read the Daily Telegraph whilst I read the Guardian at my school from the age of 13. I was the idealistic teenager that he had been and he couldn‘t bear it in me or him. So when I left home at 18 to go to Uni (main criteria I used anywhere 100 or more miles from home!) I was able to delight in exploring radical thought and actions. I enjoyed hanging out with people who had a range of viewpoints and I felt no need to tow a party line or convert people to my viewpoint. Still don’t because my views have evolved over time and thus are provisional and I would hate you to get stuck in my past! Having said that I think there is a lot to be said for compassion and self compassion as a way to life but don’t see me as a good example! I notice that change occurs when there is some kind of consensus evolving compromises and good people from across the political spectrum co-operating. During lockdown there was a real sense of community adhesion and mutual support, not total, not involving everyone, not perfect but a lovely spirit nonetheless. I think Extinction Rebellion is an interesting and timely example. They can’t force us to change. Their protest can invite us to think and act. And Covid itself seems to have raised some environmental issues. At the end of the day Extinction Rebellion will only succeed if enough of the people and their politicians get the point and are moved to act. The same is true of Black Lives Matter. Just before Lockdown a fellow Unitarian was critical of Extinction Rebellion and referred to them as ‘childish’. I was disappointed as this did not match my view of him. In that moment I could not speak to him about it. Next time I am face-to-face with him I will tenderly open up a conversation with a willingness to hear him.